Editor’s note: The following are student writings on the 2-week moose hide tanning camp that took place at the old lodge in Sambaa K’e.

Atanda Kotchea holds a moose hide mitt she made from moose hide that was tanned at last year’s moose hide tanning camp in September. – photo courtesy of Kevin Redmond

Edzea Rocque-Jumbo

I went to the 2017 Sambaa K’e moose hide tanning camp. Jada, Atanda, and I found a cabin where we unpacked after we went to go and help the others with their stuff. It was getting late, we went to the fire and we told a couple of stories, it was scary, but I enjoyed the experience.

My three favorite parts of camp was:

The food was really good and delicious.

Stories around the campfire.

I liked the moose hide tanning very much.

We watched the Elders punch the moose hide, then we all took turns at punching the moose hide. It was real hard work, much more difficult than I thought it would be. By the end of each day, everyone was tired and we slept well.

The next day we cut some of the hair off the moose hide. Then we waited for it to dry. After it dried we scraped till it was kind of thin and then we did caribou hide and then the deer and moose calf and after that we were done.

Jada Lamalice

On August 27th a moose hide tanning program began, which took place at the old lodge, and ended on September 9th. At least half of the community went, which was about 40 people. Everyone was camping in canvas, hub tents or cabins.

Three of my favourite parts of the camp were:

  • Eating the delicious food, as in meals and snacks.
  • Camping, like being out on the land.
  • Learning more about how to do the moose hide.

First of all, the food was delicious. My most favourite meal was macaroni salad with rice and corn on the cob. We also had fully loaded home made pizza. And for the snacks, were banana boats. Banana boats are made of a banana, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

My other favourite part of the camp was being out on the land and socializing more with people, people from the community that I barely get to interact with. I also enjoy being on the land because I feel more connected to the land. Knowing our ancestors were there long ago was a very powerful connection with our culture. While we were in camp for two weeks, the older people (Elders) would speak to us younger people in Slavey.

This was my third moose hide tanning program, so I was quite familiar with most of the steps we were doing as a group. During that two weeks, that was my first time participating that much, it was a great experience for me. Growing up in Sambaa k’e, I’ve seen a lot of women work on moose and caribou hides at home. I would mostly watch my mother and grandmother work on moose hides. As I got older I would help and participate more with them, making this camp very special for me and my family.

That two weeks of punching and scraping moose and caribou hides was a great experience for me as it made me think of how much patience and hard work it takes to finish one hide. But, it’s totally worth it in the end. I’m glad to have grandmothers that teach me everything that I should know as a young Dene woman. When I’m older I would like to carry on that tradition.

Valerie Lamalice, left stretches the moose hide while Sadedi Lamalice gives the hide a good scrape in preparation for the tanning process. photo courtesy of Kevin Redmond

Jamie Deneyoua Nahanni

On August 26, 2017, at the lodge, Sambaa K’e held a 2-week camp for moose hide tanning. We cleaned, scraped and prepared moose and caribou hides for future use. In the next paragraph I’ll tell you the things I most enjoyed at camp.

The things I liked most were; scraping the hide, siting by the fire telling scary stories, sleeping in the tents with the smell of elu (spruce bows) and hot fire. Those are all my favorite things I enjoyed doing at the camp.

I like scraping hides because you just need to scrape all the hair off the back and its mostly finished; I just like doing it because you see the reward of your work as the hair is scraped away.

I also like sleeping in the canvas tents with elu, because the elu is like a carpet and it smells really nice. When you start a fire in the tent, its comfortable and cozy I really do enjoy it a lot.

The funniest thing to do is sitting by the fire when its late and they’re telling scary stories. That is fun, because when its time to sleep we all have to walk to our tents in the dark and I think that’s really fun and scary for everyone to do that in the night.

This moose hide tanning camp was fun. I felt more connected to the land, it was calm but still enjoyable, I learned more from the elders, This was my first time going to a moose hide camp I had a lot of fun. All we had to do was speak Slavey and try not to speak English, I hope they have another one next year and other people can come from out of town for such a great experience.

Tamara Deneyoua-Nahanni

On August 25, 2017, Sambaa K’e held a camp for moose hide tanning for approximately 2 weeks. It was just enough time for us to finish around 6 hides, we did both caribou and moose hides.

The things I enjoyed the most about the camp was that I got to punch moose and caribou hides for the first time. I also loved sleeping in the canvas tent, most of all I liked going for walks in the bush. It was the most wonderful time in Sambaa K’e of 2017.

To be taught how to punch moose hide and caribou hide in the bush was an amazing experience. It made me feel like ‘well there’s another thing I learned about moose hide’. Honestly, it was such a great time punching the hides.

I loved sleeping in the canvas tents because the smell of the elu (spruce bows) is nice and soothing. Also having a fire in the tent makes the tent real toasty and warm at night. I felt more connected with the land, but having spiders come down from the top of the tent at night was scary. All though the camp was cozy.

My favorite part of the camp was the walks in the bush. We would usually go to pick cranberries, and sometimes we’d take a gun and practice our shooting. And the other things we did on walks were go to the lake a little ways behind our camp and go canoeing on the lake. It was fun because that was when the majority of the town wanted to go too.

This was the best camp in Sambaa K’e that I have been to this year. I really love the rich tradition that they have here, it’s wonderful. When I get these experiences from the elders and parents, it makes me just love it more, because they are sharing their teachings with other children so the tradition will be able to be passed on for many years.

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